(I apologize in advance for this week’s handicapping and analysis articles being so short – it’s been a very busy week)
The Blue Grass Stakes is surely going to be a scrutinized Kentucky Derby prep, and rightfully so. With the exception of the UAE Derby and the Spiral Stakes, all of the other major Derby preps are run on dirt, while the Blue Grass will be run on Keeneland’s polytrack. I can’t fault anyone that thinks this race is a bit of a wildcard when it comes to legit Derby contenders. Nonetheless, the race has a full field of 15 runners trying to secure a starting spot in Louisville.
There doesn’t appear to be a ton of speed in this race, and I don’t love any of the turfers trying the synthetic. Rydilluc will take his fair share of money, but I’m not sold on him at a short price. Due to the lack of pace and the track at Keeneland playing fairly kind to speed, I’ve narrowed it to three contenders.
I anticipate Undrafted to be on the front end, seeing as he’s stretching out from sprints. The best race of his career was over the Keeneland surface in his career debut, so it’s clear he likes the synthetic. I don’t think he’ll be able to carry his speed nine furlongs, but I think he could end up hanging around until the very end. He’s a nice sprinter that I’d expect to be a strong contender in the three-year old sprints later in the year.
Uncaptured is a very nice colt that seems to do his best racing over a synthetic surface. He has every right to advance off his first start as a three-year old, and I expect him to. He’s very logical in this spot, but I don’t necessarily want him at a short price.
I’ve been pumping him up for weeks now, so I can’t jump off at this point. If he takes to the polytrack, I think Palace Malice wins the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. In his first start of the season in the Risen Star, Palace Malice was taken farther back than I believe he would have liked, yet still put in a solid run down the stretch. His last start in the Louisiana Derby was nothing short of disastrous. After making a beautiful middle move, he was terribly boxed in coming down the stretch, eliminating any chance he had at making a serious run down the lane. I expect Garrett Gomez to have him much more forwardly placed, and in a race that lacks very much speed, I think Palace Malice can take advantage and win the Blue Grass.
SELECTION: 5 – Palace Malice, Garrett Gomez; ML 8-1